Mail a Letter

If you're unaccustomed to using snail mail, you may be confused as to how to make sure your letter gets to the right place. This article will show you how to mail a letter correctly and ensure that it reaches its intended destination.

10 Second Summary

1. Choose the right envelope. Place the letter inside and seal it. More ↓
2. Write the recipient's name and address on the front-middle of the envelope.
3. Write your name and address in the upper left corner.
4. Add a postage stamp in the upper right corner. Use more stamps, if needed.
5. Place the letter into a blue postage box, inside your own mailbox, or take it to your post office.


Getting the Letter Ready to Mail

  1. Choose an envelope. It's important to find an envelope of the right type for your letter. If you choose an envelope that's too light, for example, your heavy stationery might break through the envelope while it's in transit. Take the following factors into consideration as you decide what kind of envelope you need for your letter:
    • The weight of the paper. The weight of the envelope should match the weight of the paper and any other contents you may be mailing with it. If your letter is written on heavy cardstock, or you're including something else like photos inside, choose a sturdy envelope that can handle the contents.
    • The size of the paper. The size of the envelope should be appropriate for the size of the paper. Letters written on standard sized 8 1/2 by 11-inch paper are typically folded into thirds, then mailed in a business-sized envelope. Letters written on notecards may be mailed in smaller envelopes.
    • The intent of the letter. If you're mailing a cover letter, you'll want to choose a professional-looking business-sized envelope. A personal note may be sent in a decorative, colorful envelope if you wish.
    • The letter's destination. If you're mailing the letter overseas, you may want to use a sturdy envelope, since there is a greater chance it could get damaged along the way.
  2. Enclose the letter and seal the envelope. Once you've chosen the right envelope for your letter, place the letter inside and lick the edge of the envelope to moisten the glue, then press it shut to seal the letter.
    • You can wet a sponge with a little water to moisten the envelope glue if you don't want to lick it.
    • Place a bit of clear tape along the edge of the seal if you are afraid the letter might open on its journey.
  3. Address the envelope. Write the address of the recipient in the middle of the front of the envelope. Include the recipient's name, apartment or house number, street name, city, state or province, and zip or postal code. Use clear, printed letters written in dark ink so that the post office knows just where to send it.
    • If you are writing to someone outside your country, make sure you include the country name as well.
    • Some people have their mail sent to a post office box, rather than a street address. If this is the case for your recipient, write the correct post office box number followed by the city, state and country if applicable.
    • Write each part of the address on a different line to make it more legible. For example:
      • Skyler White
      • 2004 Rosethorn Court, Apt. 4
      • Albuquerque, New Mexico 87041
      • United States
  4. Write your return address. In the top left corner of the envelope, write your name and address. You may also choose to write it on the back of the sealed envelope or use a printed return address label. Including your address will ensure that the letter comes back to you if for some reason it doesn't make it to the recipient.

Finding the Right Postage

  1. Use a first class letter stamp. If you're mailing a letter of standard size and weight within the same country, place a first class letter stamp in the top right corner of the letter. Stamps are available for purchase at the post office, online at, and at some convenience stores.
    • Stamps come with either standard or special designs. If you want to purchase a decorative stamp, go to the post office and ask to see their selection.
    • Stamps rise in price every few years. If you have old postage stamps, check to make sure they're still valuable enough to use. You may have to use two.
  2. Buy extra postage. Letters that are heavy or oversized and letters that are being mailed overseas require extra postage to reach their destination.
    • If you have a scale at home, you can weigh and measure your letter to determine how much postage you'll need to pay. Record the measurements, then check for rates. Affix as many stamps as you need to the top right corner of your letter.
    • If you don't have a scale, take your letter to the post office to have it weighed. The postal worker will be able to calculate exactly how much postage you'll need to buy.

Mailing the Letter

  1. Place the letter in a blue mailbox. If you live in the United States, you'll notice blue USPS mailboxes bolted to the sidewalk in cities and suburbs. Walk to one of the boxes, open it with the handle, place your letter in the slot, and close it. A postal worker will collect your letter and start the delivery process.
    • Every mailbox has a notice detailing when the mail gets picked up. If you place your letter in the box after the scheduled pick up time, your letter will get picked up the next day instead.
    • Be careful not to place your letter in a brown mailbox. Brown mailboxes are for residential or commercial use.
  2. Place the letter in your own mailbox. If you have a mailbox on your house, you can place your letter there and alert your mail carrier of its presence by lifting the red metal flag affixed to the side of the box. When the flag is raised, the mail carrier knows that there's a letter that needs to be mailed.
  3. Take the letter to the post office. If you need to buy postage at the post office, you can leave your letter with the post office worker and he or she will mail it for you. Even if you don't need to buy postage, you can still take your letter to the post office to be mailed.
    • The post office is a good place to mail your letter if you want to make sure it gets to its destination as quickly as possible. Taking your letter directly to the post office can cut down on the transit time by a day or so.
    • See for information on where to find the closest post office.

Letter Help

Doc:Envelope Template,Envelope with Attn,Business Letter


  • Check with your country's postal service for postage rates.


  • Depending on the country, not all information in this article is accurate. If you live outside the United States, check with your local post office for information for your country.

Things You'll Need

  • Letter
  • Envelope
  • Pencil/Pen
  • Stamp

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Sources and Citations